Peter Zschech

Kapitänleutnant (Crew 36)

1 ship sunk, total tonnage 7,173 GRT

Born  1 Oct 1918 Constantinople, Turkey
Died  24 Oct 1943(25)North Atlantic


3 Apr 1936 Offiziersanwärter
10 Sep 1936 Seekadett
1 May 1937 Fähnrich zur See
1 Jul 1938 Oberfähnrich zur See
1 Oct 1938 Leutnant zur See
1 Oct 1940 Oberleutnant zur See
1 Apr 1943 Kapitänleutnant


21 Dec 1939 Iron Cross 2nd Class
19 Oct 1940 Destroyer War Badge
31 Dec 1941 U-boat War Badge 1939
12 Apr 1942 Iron Cross 1st Class

U-boat Commands

U-505 6 Sep 1942 24 Oct 1943  (+)  7 patrols (118 days, * died during this patrol) 

Peter Zschech joined the Kriegsmarine in 1936, and was part of the Olympia Crew. He was a watch officer on the destroyer Z 7 Hermann Schoemann July 1939 - April 1940, and then Z 14 Friedrich Ihn, April - Oct. 1940. He commenced U-boat training in Oct. 1940 and was assigned to U-124 (Mohr) as a Watch Officer in August 1941.

He served on U-124 during Mohr’s first four very successful patrols (22 ships sunk and three damaged). After this valuable experience he underwent Commander Training with the 24th (Training) Flotilla at Memel August – early Sept. 1942 before taking over command of U-505 (Loewe) on 6 Sept. 1942.

Peter Zschech thus had an excellent grounding for U-boat command and great things were expected of him. He failed to live up to these high expectations and was, according to many accounts, not well liked by his crew. Repeated sabotage discovered at the start of the patrol which forced a return to port on several occasions must also have affected his morale.

During almost 14 months in command he spent only 96 days at sea during six patrols (three of which, in August 1943, were abortive one-day attempts). Only the first patrol, of 69 days, proceeded without incident and during it he sank his only ship, the 7,173 ton British merchant Ocean Justice, sunk without casualties off South America.

While outbound east of the Azores on 24 Oct. 1943 U-505 came under heavy depth charge attack. Peter Zschech apparently broke down and took his own life with his service pistol in the control room of the boat. The IWO, Oblt. Paul Mayer (26 years of age), took command, evaded the pursuers and returned the boat to Lorient on 7 Nov. 1943.

The approximate location of the boat during the attack


Busch, R. & Röll, H. (1999). German U-boat Commanders of World War II.

Patrol info for Peter Zschech

 U-boat Departure Arrival  
1. U-505 4 Oct 1942  Lorient  12 Dec 1942  Lorient  Patrol 1,70 days
2. U-505 1 Jul 1943  Lorient  13 Jul 1943  Lorient  Patrol 2,13 days
3. U-505 1 Aug 1943  Lorient  2 Aug 1943  Lorient  Patrol 3,2 days
4. U-505 14 Aug 1943  Lorient  15 Aug 1943  Lorient  Patrol 4,2 days
5. U-505 21 Aug 1943  Lorient  22 Aug 1943  Lorient  Patrol 5,2 days
6. U-505 18 Sep 1943  Lorient  30 Sep 1943  Lorient  Patrol 6,13 days
7. U-505 9 Oct 1943  Lorient  7 Nov 1943  Lorient  Patrol 7,16 days*
7 patrols, 118 days at sea
* Peter Zschech died during this patrol on 24 Oct 1943

Ships hit by Peter Zschech

Date U-boat Name of ship Tons Nat. Convoy
7 Nov 1942U-505 Ocean Justice7,173br

1 ship sunk (7,173 tons).

About ranks and decorations
Special thanks to Fernando Almeida for data on ranks and decorations.

Media links

German U-boat Commanders of World War II

Busch, Rainer and Röll, Hans-Joachim

Listing of all U-boat commanders

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